One relatively minor, but extremely controversial, aspect of the council’s finances is councillor’s allowances. You can see them all here. Last year in 2009/10 the council paid out just over £1 million in allowances to 69 councillors.
As a part of the budget councillor’s allowances have been reduced by £127K or 11% over three years.
In their manifesto Labour promised: “A freeze on councillors’ allowances”. This always seemed to us to be a inadequate offer and back in October when allowances came up both the Tory and LibDem groups voted together to cut allowances by 10% immediately.
Labour’s solution is to have a go at what are called special responsibility allowances and in particular to do away with a large number of scrutiny panels and their chairmen. These panels are the basic training ground for new councillors and the place where councillors get to understand issues in detail and hold the officers and executive to account. They are often a lot of work. The Labour solution is to ditch these panels, along with a couple of cabinet and shadow cabinet roles, so that the administration gets less hassle in the form of scrutiny and their back benchers don’t have to turn up to so many meetings, we know how they hate that! The Labour back benchers want to do less work for the same allowance whilst everywhere else the council is demanding more for less.